I am writing this on a weirdly letter-spread out keyboard at the Le Clos , Notre Dam hotel, Paris, on a sunday morning. Emily is asleep upstairs. After a tres joli walk thro’ Paris we shall be returning to Edinburgh tonight! I feel refreshed & revitalized… Paris is a sensational & serene city – the kind of place folk would build if they actually gave a fuc£!
On wednesday morning, we arrived early in Rome from Edinburgh, where we walked to the Protestant Cematary. As I showed Ems the graves of Shelley & Keats & couldn;t help picturing me here as a 21 year old at the dawn of my career – now I’m 40 I’ve outlived them all – a strange sensation.
From Rome we idled up the coast to Castiglione by train, a lovely spot with a medieval burgo looking out over the island-dotted Meditterranean. We were met by Dario, an Air B&B guy, who gave us the top room in his lovely house on the outskirts of Castiglione for £50 a night. I got obsessed with his upper terrace floor, after spilling a bit of tuna oil, which I thought I’d clean & thus made more stains! This incident began our bonnie & clyde style rampage thro Europe, leaving a trail of minor breakages & spillages in our wake.
Thursday was spent all day on the beach – Ems really needed it, & I got the vibe that this was the Italian Goa. I’ll be back. I also filmed a couple of cantos of A&A in the locality, which was a swell thing to do.
Next day we set off again, calling in Pisa en route for more Damological pilgrimages. I showed Ems scenes from my busking domicile in the Pisa, & wrote a few stanzas for my Honeymoon poem, the finale to the Silver Rose sequence.
My Pisan streets, how I return to thee,
This time a wife fix’d sweetly by my side,
That like a muse comes merrily to me,
Or is she you, who gaylie deified
My youthful verse, turning to poetry,
Ye urged me on the world to wander wide,
From Tuscan marriage; Muse I sense ye still
About my mind, my woman & my will.
That evening we arrived, via Lucca, in Pistoia. A lovely medieval-hearted place ran by the lovely Giovanni, in which we took rooms in an amazing room in an amazing house. We dined out for the first & only time on the tour – delicisoso Tuscan cooking – & reveled in the funky Pistoian ‘everyone-knows-everyone’ vibe. Our rooms were above the city’s main, narrow artery, so Saturday night was echoing all night. This & the wine bubbled us up into a romantic glow, & suffice to say our lovemaking was sweet.
The next morning we rose early, breakfasted, then took two trains to Bologona, thro extremely pretty & hilly countryside of the most luscious greens. Taking a flight to Paris, we landed 50 miles north at Beauvais, from where we caught a bus into Paris. Dropping us off near the Arc de Triumph, we both popped our Parisian cherry by conducting an epic walk along the Champs D’Elysee, thro’ the Tuileries Gardens, past the Louvre & onto Place Saint Michael, where our hotel was to be found.
After indulging in the free champagne at the hotel., we stepped out into the Parisian night, full of euphoria & fun. After the mega-busy hustle-bustle streets of the Latin quarter, we paused in front of the impressive Notre Dame cathedral on the Lutetian Isle. Then, the day & the tour hit us, & we went back to our hotel for a much needed repose.
This morning, before dawn, I poured out some left over red wine & hit the streets. It was at the Pont Neuf Bridge that I found a perfect location for the final stanzas of the Honeymoon poem – & thus the Silver Rose. The idea is I leave two roses on a seat there, which will hopefully inspire future poets to leave two roses there also…
I am the Silver Rose this purple morn
That clambers over Paris with set poise,
This Seine, this celebration, seems reborn
In me, a poet feeling first her joys,
But amplified to grandeur by the horn
Of mankind’s pearl’d advancement, what a noise!
Shaking with thunderous force the vaults below –
No! The latter was in fact the metro.
I took a seat upon the Pont Neuf Bridge
& paus’d there like a panting cicerone -
Sat in a semi-circle hermitage,
I pinn’d my Silver Roses to the stone
The summit of a perfect pilgrimage
Thro’ which profund philosophies have grown
Into this verbose effigy of me -
Some Robin Hood, some Richard de la Lea.
Of future bards & artists who have felt,
Their passions with my poetry entwine,
Then find themselves in Paris; as I’ve knelt
By Shelley’s tomb, with music & with wine,
Unto this stone immortal let them melt
& place a pair of roses as a sign
To passing people, centuries apart -
True poetry still gushes from the heart!